Shops Around the Corner

"They don´t like certain questions." This appears to be an unwritten code here in Little Italy where the owner of a tobacco shop is a self-described outsider from New Jersey. Nonetheless, questions posed in Shops Around the Corner are the means to an end for the filmmaker Jörg Kalt: you only get answers if you try to find something out.

In 1998, Kalt and cameraperson Eva Testor stood at the intersection of Mulberry and Grand every morning - at the exact boundary between Little Italy and Chinatown. They had come to New York for two weeks spontaneously to shoot two films. Upon his return, Kalt completed the short Living in a Box (2000). According to Kalt himself, after 9/11 he no longer felt capable of completing the second film. Before he died in 2007 he gave the footage to film director and friend Nina Kusturica.

Now, close to twenty years later, she has brought this very personal film to its conclusion. Shops Around the Corner is informed by empathy and curiosity, motivated by a palpable impulse to approach people with a joyfully open mind. Its unmediated quality emerges from Kalt´s approach: He enters stores armed with his microphone, accompanied by an all observant camera which lovingly captures details, scoping counters and looking into glass vitrines, sitting in the barber chair where local youths off the street proudly present their tattoos. Shops Around the Corner creates a wonderful, brightly colored mosaic out of small stories woven together into miniatures that enrich and complete one another: Robert De Niro´s barber; the lady feeding the pigeons, forced to give up her apartment due to rent hikes; the guy selling sandwiches including his "Godfather Special"; and also, the invisible patron receiving payment in an envelope for his "services".

At this point in time Shops Around the Corner is an historic document, a record of changing times through which it is lent a touch of melancholy. But in light of remembering Jörg Kalt, what is perhaps most beautiful about the film is how it is imbued with the quiet hope that despite everything, life goes on. (Michael Pekler)

Translation: Eve Heller

Orig. Title
Shops Around the Corner
80 min
Jörg Kalt
Orig. Language
English, German
Jörg Kalt
Jörg Kalt
Eva Testor
Jörg Kalt
Nina Kusturica
Sound Design
Andreas Pils
finished by
Nina Kusturica
Nina Kusturica
Supported by
Land Niederösterreich, BKA - innovative film
Available Formats
DCP 2K flat
Color Format
Festivals (Selection)
Graz - Diagonale, Festival des österreichischen Films